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March 2, 2015

Microsoft Word 2016

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Sometime this year, Microsoft will supposedly release the next version of Microsoft Office. Along with it comes the next version of Microsoft Word. In my mind, that looming event raises one singular question: What will they screw up now?

It’s not really that anything gets screwed up. To Microsoft’s credit, it’s pretty cool that you can open a 25-year-old Word document in the current version of Word and still have it be usable. Word can even open and interpret the WordPerfect files I used to write my first computer books. That’s amazing.

The problem most people have with a new version of Word is with the features, the command set. Microsoft keeps fine-tuning the commands, dropping some, adding others, moving just about everything.

From the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, Word was pretty stable. It received a major overhaul with Office 2007. Gone were the toolbars and menus, replaced by the Ribbon.

Between versions 2007, 2010, and the current Word 2013, not much has really changed.

Oh, they mess with mail merge. They do that enough to drive anyone nuts. I wish they’d just leave it alone. Perhaps they believe they’re making it easier each time, but they aren’t.

So for the future, I haven’t a clue. I know that Office Next is due out soon, but for the immediate future, Windows Ten is taking the spotlight. You can actually get a beta for that operating system, although I don’t recommend doing so unless you have a spare, sacrificial computer on which to install it.

For Word 2016 (or whatever), I’d love to see things stabilize. I don’t want to have to hunt for new features. I wish they’d drop the silly Web interface. Trust me, no one uses Microsoft Word to design web pages. No one.

The Reading Mode is silly. I believe it was added to compete with Acrobat Reader. It doesn’t, so drop Reading Mode. I use only Print Layout, Draft, and Outline modes. Among them, Draft and Outline were demoted, which I found disappointing.

I’d like to see full AutoCorrect restored. I enjoyed creating and using those shortcuts, but they’re gone and haven’t really been replaced.

I’m leery of any Office 365 or web-based tools. Microsoft sorely wants you to pay them monthly for software, and Office 2016 may be their foray into that field. If so, I hope they adopt a model similar to Adobe, where the software is on your computer, updated and kept fresh, and it still works whether or not you have Internet access. That would be okay. Disappointing, but okay.

Beyond that, word processor software ceased with the major improvements back in the early 1990s, when spell-checking was finally integrated. So I’m eager to hear what improvements await Word. I’ll let you know more info as soon as I do.

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